Goolawah National Park
Fishing, birdwatching, surfing and whale watching are just some of the things to do at Racecourse campground, a great beach camping site near Crescent Head and Kempsey.
|Number of campsites||20|
|Camping type||Tent, Camper trailer site, Camping beside my vehicle|
|What to bring||Drinking water, cooking water, fuel stove|
Rates and availability are displayed when making an online booking.
|Bookings||Bookings are required. Book online or call the National Parks Contact Centre on 1300 072 757.|
Positioned right on Goolawah Beach, Racecourse campground puts you in pole position for exquisite scenic views and marine wildlife-spotting. Surrounded by paperbarks and coastal banksia, protected from those gusting southerlies by Racecourse Headland, this beach camping spot is a secluded gem.
Set up your tent or trailer and revel in the feeling of freedom. With few facilities and no distractions, your time is all your own. Try the renowned surf break, go snorkelling or fishing, or see if you can spy a dolphin or two.
Depending when you visit, you’ll find this beachside campground either relatively empty or awash with surfers and small groups. Summer boasts a lively vibe, while other seasons offer more opportunity for quiet.
In this picturesque part of the world, it’s just as much fun to watch as it is to do. Go birdwatching or whale watching. Sit by the water and gauge the ever-changing mood of the ocean, get up early to see the sun rise.
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/racecourse-campground/local-alerts
- National Parks Contact Centre
- 7am to 7pm daily
- 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS) for the cost of a local call within Australia excluding mobiles
- Kempsey office
- Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm.
- 02 6561 6700
- 247 Old Station Rd, Verges Creek NSW 2440
- in Goolawah National Park in the North Coast region
Goolawah National Park is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
All the practical information you need to know about Racecourse campground.
Getting there and parking
Racecourse campground is in the southern precinct of Goolawah National Park. To get there from Kempsey:
- Take Crescent Head Road from South Kempsey
- Just after entering Crescent Head village, take the prominent right turn to Point Plomer Road and into Goolawah National Park.
- You’ll find the turn-off to Racecourse campground a further 6km south along Point Plomer Road
Check the weather before you set out as the road to this campground can become boggy when it rains.
- Unsealed roads
- 2WD vehicles
- All weather
Parking is available at Racecourse campground.
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Goolawah National Park. Here are some of the highlights.
This is a great time to go beachcombing, feel the sand between your toes on a beach walk, and breathe in the salty sea air. The water is still quite warm in autumn, too, so a swim is certainly not out of the question.
Roam through the park in spring to go birdwatching and see the coastal heathlands bursting with wildflowers. The colourful banksias and bottlebrush will catch your eye instantly.
Bring your towel and bathers and hit the Crescent Head beaches. You'll find Goolawah Beach a great spot for swimming, surfing and snorkeling.
Winter is the time for whale watching. Climb to the headland to spot whales on their annual migration. Plan a winter trip if you prefer a quieter camping experience. Campgrounds are less crowded at this time of year.
- Drinking water is not available at this campground. Non-potable bore water is available.
- Firewood for your brazier can be purchased from the campground manager
- Rubbish bins are provided during peak periods – at other times, please take rubbish with you when you leave.
- Non-flush toilets
Cold water beach showers are available but there is no private shower block.
- Cold showers
Maps and downloads
Disability access level - medium
- Assistance may be required to access some parts of this area
- There is a wheelchair-accessible toilet with hard access path, however other campground surfaces and beach access tracks are natural and uneven, requiring assistance.
A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.
Firewood may not be collected from the park. If you have a brazier you can purchase firewood from the campground manager.
Sites are not powered and generators are not permitted in this campground.
NSW national parks are no smoking areas.
Crescent Head (6 km)
Crescent Head on the NSW North Coast is surrounded by some of the stunning natural environments in the State. As well as long stretches of coastline with fabulous beaches, there is a string on coastal national parks to explore. Go surfing, fishing, boating and bushwalking, enjoy bird watching or whale watching, spot dolphins, turtles and even koalas in the wild.
Kempsey (66 km)
Kempsey is a historic river town close to national parks and majestic beaches. Kempsey is a convenient place for an overnight stop for anyone driving between Sydney and the North Coast.
Port Macquarie (15 km)
Vibrant Port Macquarie is surrounded by beautiful waterways - the Hastings River, canals, creeks, bays and the Pacific Ocean. The city also has a five-star collection of golden-sand beaches stretching from Port Macquarie Beach to Town Beach and north along the 16-km swathe of North Beach.
Racecourse campground is in Goolawah National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
All creatures great and small
A visit to Goolawah National Park is like stepping into an amazing nature documentary. Come to see a huge variety of birds and animals, from ospreys and tawny frogmouths, to goannas and bandicoots, to dolphins and turtles. Go whale watching in winter, or head to the park's north to spot koalas in the tall eucalypts. Bird watching enthusiasts can see beach raptors, shore birds, parrots and honeyeaters. Plus, Goolawah is an important area for dingo conservation; so keep your eyes peeled, particularly at the campgrounds.
Fighting to preserve culture
Goolawah is an Aboriginal word meaning 'yesterday'. Rich in edible resources, the area is highly significant to the local Dunghutti Aboriginal People, who still nurture a close connection with this land, and often camp here to maintain their culture. Locals are passionate about this area, and continue campaigning to limit its development. As you enter the park via Point Plomer Road, an unsealed road once used for sand mining, bear in mind the community's fight to keep this old 'back road' - and its surrounding landscape - natural, rustic and truly reminiscent of yesterday.
Protected plant life
Native plant life enthusiasts will delight in a visit to Goolawah, home of a range of coastal vegetation communities. See if you can spot endangered Themeda grasslands and littoral rainforest on the windswept headlands, and be sure to keep to the tracks in these fragile environments. In autumn and winter, many trees burst into flower, including broad-leaved paperbarks, coast banksias and swamp mahoganies. Not only are these amazing to behold, they're also vital food sources for wildlife, including the endangered swift parrot.
- Surf and stay at Crescent Head Stay across from a beautiful surf beach at Waves Campground and spend your days learning to surf, near the popular surf town of Crescent Head.
Head to the relaxed Goolawah beach to stroll on the sand or go bushwalking, bird watching, swimming or try your luck fishing. Plus, be sure to bring your board - many people regard this part of Australia as home to the country's best surfing. Beachcombing is also popular here - take a bag to collect ocean debris and litter as you walk. Not only will you revitalise your connection with nature, you'll be helping keep our beaches and oceans clean and safe for marine life. At the core of your Goolawah experience is the deep sense of discovery, respect and calm that results from spending time in such unspoiled surroundings. Camp for a few days and be the first to add your footprints to the sand in the mornings. Hear nothing but birds and crashing waves, and gather around a campfire, disconnected from duties, demands and devices. You can even share this incredible experience with your best friend in neighbouring Goolawah Regional Park. The Regional Park's 'Delicate campground' is one of the few northern NSW campgrounds you can bring your dog to, but keep in mind some mandatory restrictions do apply.